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Professional Corner

The Simple Secret
to Achieving Your Goals: Focus

Focusing is the process of bringing together resources to accomplish a goal. First you need a strategic plan. Then you need focus to carry yourself through each step of that plan. Focusing is most important when the task at hand is difficult, unusual, and/or prolonged.

Focusing is difficult because there are so many interests clamoring for our attention. It’s easy to be distracted and forget about your goals for a time, but if you don’t focus and concentrate, you waste away valuable resources.

The crucial element is having something to focus on. That something is called a goal. Without a goal, the mind wanders and becomes situation-oriented, responding to the environment rather than to an internal sense of focus. People fail to focus because they:

Set the wrong goals. Although many people think they have goals, they really don’t. They have not clarified the goals in a detailed, realistic way.

Don’t know how to reach their goals. Their methods of attaining them often are inadequate.

Lack interest in their goals. People who set goals to please others don’t care if they never achieve them.

Wonder if their goals are still valid.

Discover that their goals are no longer attainable.

It’s Not Easy to Focus

Focusing is a problem for…

People who are anxious. They often realize that their goals are eating up more time and energy than they are worth. This may be true for you if you are easily distracted or you distract yourself with compulsive cleaning, phone-calling, reading the newspaper, plant-watering – all symptomatic activities designed to relieve the anxiety.

Underachievers. They don’t focus because they fear the outcome will result in fear and rejection. Paradoxically, they may also fear success and acceptance – because they think they won’t always be able to live up to other’s further expectations.

People who are very involved with their feelings. They need to learn how to reflect on and control their emotions. Although feelings are important (goals are born in feelings) it takes thinking and logic to make their goals realistic.

Disenchanted people. They refuse to compete, and they reject the entire goal-setting process. Many such people, disillusioned with the American way of life, are still living in the 1960’s. They are unhappy, but they don’t know how to change without giving up their principles.

Overachievers. They can become addicted to the focusing process because it’s very reinforcing. There’s such immediate gratification in setting a strategy and reaching a goal that they don’t notice what achieving an ever-increasing set of goals will cost them.

How To Stay In Focus

Soliciting feedback is the best way to find out if your goals and your strategies are realistic. It’s important to check with people you respect as your toward a goal.

You also need to review your goals regularly to make sure they’re still in focus. As in action photography, you may be moving around a moving target – and unless you refocus continuously, you’ll lose the shot.

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Last modified: January 26, 2013